Newly elected to Congress and just finishing his first week in office, Scott Franklin has already found a new home in Washington. It was part of a promise to his wife, Amy.
After a career as a Navy pilot that left Amy stranded when he was on deployment, “I promised I wouldn’t leave her again while I pursued my ends,” he said via text.
Many members of Congress live without their families in Washington, sometimes sharing an apartment — or even sleeping in their offices. But with the Franklins’ three children grown, they have more flexibility to live together in the nation’s capital.
Franklin declined to specify which part of the Washington area he’ll be calling home: “I’d rather not talk about it since my wife is with me whenever I’m there. There’s just a lot of crazies right now.”
Since Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol building by a mob — Franklin was issued a gas mask as House members evacuated the chambers during debate — and the votes later that night on Electoral College results, he said some of the press has been “over the top hostile — calling us traitors who need to be taken down and posting pics like wanted posters. One included a photo of my wife and me.”
Franklin joined more than 100 fellow Republicans in voting to reject the Electoral College votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both votes failed by large margins before Joe Biden was declared the next president at 3:41 a.m. Thursday.
In a public statement issued Wednesday night, Franklin deplored the mob violence on Capitol Hill, virtually a universal sentiment. But he did not blame President Donald Trump for the mayhem, as some Republicans in Congress have joined Democrats in doing.
Franklin, an insurance executive and former Lakeland city commissioner, defeated Democrat Alan Cohn in the November general election to represent Florida House District 15, which spans from Temple Terrace to Clermont.
Franklin said he and his wife will be returning to their Lakeland home near Lake Hollingsworth as often as possible. In fact, he got back here Thursday night.
The Franklins will be flying American Airlines to Tampa or Orlando when they come home to Lakeland because he sold his private plane. He didn’t fly it enough to make it feasible to keep it maintained, he said.
Franklin will learn that it can be immediately humbling to fly commercial after a day in the halls of Congress, said Dennis Ross, a Lakeland resident who flew home from Washington nearly every weekend during his eight years in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2019.
Storms can wreak havoc, Ross said, and he once was detoured to Tallahassee, got the last rental car and made it back to Lakeland at 4 a.m.
Ross said he’s happy for the Franklins that they found a place in Washington. Franklin is smart enough to know that spending time in Lakeland, and not just during election season, is not just a wish, it’s a necessity, Ross said, adding, “You have to stay connected to the people and, unfortunately, you have to raise money.”
Franklin said he wants to take a COVID-19 vaccine, but not yet, even though members of Congress have been authorized to get the vaccine. “I don’t feel like it’s right for me to get it until we finally start getting our seniors and high-risk folks immunized in large numbers.”
As a city commissioner, he never voted for a Lakeland mask mandate although commission majorities mandated them for three consecutive months last summer.
“Partially about folks needing to be responsible for themselves, but I didn’t like the way we implemented it. The directive from City Hall to LPD was to not enforce it, so not a single citation was ever written. I just don’t believe in creating rules no one intends to keep, solely for the sake of appearance,” Franklin said.
“I always carry a mask in Lakeland and wear it in any public places. I completely respect any business owner’s right to require them and will always comply.”
“And DC’s a whole other world. We wear masks in all public spaces all the time and most people wear them outdoors, too. Of course, when you’re freezing your ass off, a mask is actually a pretty good thing.”